Taking BJP's fight against Congress to the Gandhi family's home turf, party president Amit Shah held a public rally in Congress leader Sonia Gandhi's constituency Raebareli, where he said that BJP would free Raebareli and Amethi of "family rule".
Shah addressed the rally in Raebareli on Saturday, where party workers from neighbouring areas including Congress president Rahul Gandhi's constituency Amethi, attended the programme.
Though the Bharatiya Janata Party swept Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 General Elections to Lok Sabha, BJP lost both Raebareli and Amethi to Congress. Shah's efforts in Raebareli, which include meetings with party workers to review the BJP's preparedness for the 2019 general elections, seem to be an effort to wrest Raebareli and Amethi from the Opposition party.
At the rally, Shah also referred to the upcoming 12 May Karnataka Assembly Election, where he spoke of his confidence that the saffron party would put up a good show in the state. "I have just returned from Karnataka, the mood is clearly in the favour of BJP," the BJP chief said. Shah was referring to his two-day visit to Karnataka that started on 12 April.
BJP, which came to power for the first time in the southern state in 2008, lost to Congress in the May 2013 Assembly elections after BS Yeddyurappa had parted ways and formed the Karnataka Janata Party. Yeddyurappa had returned to the party a year later and had won from the Shivamogga Lok Sabha seat in the May 2014 General Elections to Lok Sabha.
The Raebareli rally saw BJP leaders relentlessly criticising Congress for failing to do enough for Raebareli and Amethi constituencies.
"Congress fooled people in the name of development," Shah said at the rally. "It was the Narendra Modi government which pushed development in Uttar Pradesh and Raebareli," he added.
Shah asserted that Raebareli's people sent several "big leaders" to Delhi, but they did not bring any development to the area. "Raebareli has seen 'parivarvad' (family rule), and not development right since Independence," Shah said.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who also spoke at the rally, said Congress failed to bring development to Raebareli and Amethi. "People of Raebareli and Amethi are suffering under Congress," Adityanath said.
The party, under Modi and Shah, has been making a determined bid to wrest Amethi from Congress. It pitted Union minister Smriti Irani against the Gandhi scion in Amethi in the last Lok Sabha elections. Irani, who has been regularly visiting Amethi and has taken various developmental initiatives there, is likely to be the party's candidate from the constituency in the next general election as well.
UP BJP general secretary Pankaj Singh also fired a salvo against the Opposition party, saying the Congress chief must answer as to why the people in the constituencies represented by him and his family members in the Parliament were crying for basic amenities even after so many years of Independence.
"The BJP government in the state under Adityanath is working on the 'sankalp' (pledge) of ensuring availability of electricity and water supply and construction of better roads in the village. When they (Congress) were in power, they had never felt it appropriate to answer to anyone," Singh also said to PTI.
Shah and Adityanath also spoke of the slew of schemes the government has implemented for Uttar Pradesh. "Adityanth restored law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh, which was notorious for goons and guns," Shah said at the rally. He also said that the chief minister had managed to make the state "pothole-free".
The BJP leaders also urged Congress to apologise for its "accusations" against them. Shah said that Rahul owed them an apology after the Mecca Masjid blast verdict.
"I ask Rahul, you tried to defame Hindu culture by claiming about ‘saffron terror’, now you should apologise to the nation. Asmeeanandji has been cleared of the charge," Shah said in Raebareli. Adityanath also said that both Sonia and Rahul should apologise to Shah for their allegations on him in the Justice Loya case.
Shah also spoke of the minor fire that had broken out at the venue of the public meeting. "When something big is about to happen some obstacles do come on the way," the BJP chief said about the incident. The fire, which was brought under control in a short time, broke out due to an electrical short-circuit near the media enclosure, officials had said.
With inputs from agencies
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Apr 21, 2018 16:13 PM